Marilynne Robinson‘s third novel, I’m sorry to report, isn’t perfect. Her famed control unravels a bit in the final pages of Home, and for anybody who loved Gilead, the new novel may feel like more of the same. But as I point out in a forthcoming review, Robinson has few rivals at the sentence level. This paragraph, I think, exemplifies that skill: homespun and often free of action, but with an uncanny power:
Starting all over again, she made a dinner to welcome him home. The dining room table was set for three, lace tablecloth, good china, silver candlesticks. The table had in fact been set for days. When she put the vase of flowers in place, she noticed dust on the plates and glasses and wiped them with her apron. Yellow tulips and white lilacs. It was a little past the season for both of them, but they would do. She had the grocery store deliver a beef roast, two pounds of new potatoes, and a quart of ice cream. She made biscuits and brownies. She went out to the garden and picked young spinach, enough to fill the colander, pressed down and flowing over, as her father would say. And Jack slept. And her father slept. And the day passed quietly, with those sweet savors rising.